Hot off the Press! Dive into stories of online learning leadership with contributor Val Kelly, Associate Vice President, Kent State Online at Kent State University

Val's Blog Kent State Online

Announcing the first book from the OLC press!

cover for the book From Grassroots to the Highly Orchestrated

The Online Learning Consortium has just announced the book launch for the inaugural book from OLC Press. From Grassroots to the Highly-Orchestrated: Online Leaders Share Their Stories of the Evolving Online Organizational Landscape in Higher Ed presents a collection of dozens of candid stories of Chief Online Officers as they nurture virtual learning from inception to maturity.

The pandemic has more than proven online learning as a vital learning modality for expanding access and equity. The OLC has been a trusted industry leader, addressing trends and challenges in the field for decades.

Among the firsthand narratives included in Grassroots is Kent State Online’s own Val Kelly, who serves as KSO’s Associate Vice President. By sharing a personal account of the lessons learned over the pandemic and beyond, we and OLC aim to inspire higher education leaders and educators to build and refine their own online learning programs.

“I am honored to have been able to contribute to this important book and truly appreciate getting to read and learn from the insights of university online leaders from around the country,” said Val Kelly.”

Val’s chapter is titled “Innovation Underway”. It relates lessons learned from the experiences of Kent State Online. It addresses how the disruptive innovation of online learning can provide insights to prepare for future innovations and disruptions.

Read the first three paragraphs below and check out the whole book here.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic forced campus closures, the quick pivot from in-person classes to all online delivery was a serious challenge for universities. At Kent State University, the rapid transition was feasible partly because the prior implementation of distance learning had led to an on-going investment in supporting infrastructure and staff.

In pre-pandemic Fall 2019, over 50% of Kent State students were already taking at least one online class, with 22% of total credit hours being taken online. This number rose temporarily to nearly 100% as the pandemic forced the university to close its on-campus classes. When the pandemic forced the closure of campus in March 2020, nearly a third of the instructors had previous online teaching experience. The existing institutional knowledge, faculty experience, support staff, and resources made the sudden transition away from in-person classes more tenable.

For those who had not previously desired to explore online teaching, the pandemic forced at least a reluctant exploration of online education and the associated technology tools such as learning management systems (LMS), video-conferencing tools (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.) for synchronous communication, and tools for recording lectures. To improve the learning experience of students, nearly 1000 faculty members from all eight Kent State campuses took part in workshops held by Kent State Online and the Center for Teaching & Learning held during the summer of 2020. The scale of this professional development demonstrated the shared view of the importance of collaborative efforts in managing such a change.”

About the Online Learning Consortium

OLC is a collaborative community of leaders who are passionate about cultivating inclusive digital learning experiences. As the resource for best practices and thought leadership in online and blended higher education, OLC sparks meaningful and effective digital experiences for individuals interested in the pursuit of knowledge through collaboration and training for leaders in innovative higher education. Learn more at

About Kent State Online

Kent State University is a pioneer in online and distance education, offering its first online program more than 15 years ago. Kent State now offers about 80 online degree and certificate programs, with nearly 20 online minors, unmatched by most peer universities, with new online programs and degrees continually being added.

Earn your degree anytime, anywhere, with Kent State University’s online graduate degrees, online undergraduate degrees, and online certificate programs. Kent State Online brings together online programs and assistance for students, faculty, the community, and global audiences.

For more information on Kent State’s Online Degrees, visit

Latest Blogs
Felesia McDonald, ’14 is an adjunct instructor in the iSchool, teaching courses in the 100% Online Master of Science in User Experience. McDonald is also the Sr Manager UX Design at Optum, a branch of UnitedHealth Group.
As one of the newest faculty members in the iSchool, Professor Dong Whi Yoo is encouraging students to see the potential of interdisciplinary research.
Kelsey Pytlik serves as an adjunct professor for the Kent State University School of Information, teaching courses in UX, UX principles and concepts, principles of interaction, and more.